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When it comes to being killed, a girl like Choo Choo deserves the best!

Baldy and the Strip-Tease Murder

By Jack Kofoed

MISTER BALDY SIMMONS is not in the habit of visiting burlesque theaters, because the jokes are at least thirty years old and the chorus girls sometimes even older. However, there is a strip-tease character named Choo Choo Wallace, whose figure makes even the Venus de Milo look like an old bag.

It is unfair to Mr. Simmons to say he goes to the Bijou just because of Choo Choo's figure, though thousands of other people do exactly this.

Miss Wallace is the daughter of a fellow Baldy is acquainted with from 'way back when Rum Row is better known than the Stork Club. He is Light Fingers Wallace, one of the best liquor dealers of his time. Light Fingers, however, has the misfortune to spend all his money hiring lawyers to keep him out of the sneezer during prohibition days, so when Choo Choo gets into the dough, she has to keep pappy as well as herself.

Choo Choo is not too cheerful about this situation, because she finds it necessary to spend plenty of potatoes on such things as diamonds, sables, and a Park Avenue penthouse. To make it more complicated, Light Fingers is unhappy if he is unable to bet a sizable wad on the horses and he is one of the worst pickers in the entire world. This combination keeps the Wallace bankroll in a tired and frazzled condition.

As a matter of fact, just this very afternoon Choo Choo calls Baldy and speaks in this manner: "It is up to you to sell a bill of goods to the old goat I am unfortunate enough to have for a pater. He loses more dough on the horses than Nick the Greek is able to win at dice, and I am getting sick and tired of paying off bookmakers. Unless he stops playing the ponies, I cut him off my payroll and let him break his heart by going to work."

"This is a very drastic thought," says Baldy. "There is only one job Light Fingers knows, and since there is no longer any profit running illegal wet goods from Bimini, I am unable to think, offhand, of anyone who hires him. Besides, he is out of practice at working."

"I do not care," Choo Choo tells him. "Light Fingers chooses between me and the horses."

Since getting Mr. Wallace to stop betting is about as easy as turning a dipsomaniac into a Carrie Nation, Baldy decides to stroll down to the Bijou, and have a little chat with Choo Choo. It may be she relents a little bit.

It is about ten o'clock when Mr. Simmons appears at the stage door. Dad, the doorman, greets him affably.

"What do you do in these parts?" Dad asks. "I understand you spend no small amount of your time solving murders and such things. Nothing is murdered around the Bijou, except a sense of humor and the English language."

"I am here to see Miss Choo Choo Wallace," says Baldy.

Dad clicks his tongue.

"I guess there is no cure for it," he says. "I do everything in my time from running booze to driving a taxi, and a guy seldom reaches an age when he figures it is good policy not to chase after dames any more. You are too old for such nonsense and do not have money enough to fool around with Choo Choo Wallace, anyway. She is strictly a dame who requires a champagne pocketbook of her boyfriends, as well as a Barrymore profile. This is true, with a single exception, and you are not it."

"Be yourself," Baldy says. "I am here on business, and it is not the business you obviously have in mind. While I am not old enough to go haywire about Miss Lillian Russell, I realize quite well I am not young enough to do likewise about Miss Choo Choo Wallace. I hope and trust I arrive between her appearances on the stage, since I do not have time to hang around this rat trap very long."

"You are in luck," the doorman tells him, "since she finishes her strip number and does not go back into action for another forty minutes. I admit the customers do not like this, because our chorus is made up of honest grandmothers, and our comics never read a joke book that is printed after the McKinley administration. But even Choo Choo cannot go out there and take off her clothes twenty times a day. As she says, there must be interludes."

BALDY offers Dad a Corona Bravura cigar, which costs him no less than half a buck. He does not do this entirely out of the goodness of his heart but because Dad knows everything that goes on around the theater and once worked on the rum boats with Light Fingers. Thus,...

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